INDIANAPOLIS - When Eagles coach Andy Reid mentioned defensive tackle Mike Patterson's progress as a pass rusher during a Thursday session with reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine, he presumably knew Patterson had been arrested 5 days earlier in Evesham Township, N.J., where Patterson lives, on a charge of possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana.

The Eagles said they had no comment on the matter yesterday, but didn't seem to treat the arrest as a crisis. Patterson could not be reached for comment. Agent Josh Luchs said he had no comment.

A legal source said that in New Jersey, assuming Patterson has no prior criminal record, if he pleads guilty or is found guilty, he will get a "conditional discharge" - 6 months of loosely supervised probation, after which the conviction will be expunged. An agent who has handled clients in similar situations said the NFL likely will place Patterson into its drug-treatment program and will fine but not suspend him. A source close to the situation said it is Patterson's first offense. An NFL spokesman said last night that the league cannot comment on any player's status regarding drug-treatment guidelines.

Patterson, 24, the Eagles' first-round draft choice in 2005 from Southern California, led NFL DTs in tackles last season and set a career high with four sacks, playing in all 16 games. He has not missed a game in three Eagles seasons.

According to a news release, Evesham Township police were investigating a disabled motor vehicle on Hopewell Road that had some visible damage "caused by a minor motor vehicle accident." Police smelled marijuana and discovered it inside the car. Michael Patterson said the marijuana was his, the release said.

He was taken into custody and charged on a summons with marijuana possession. Also taken into custody and charged with resisting arrest was his brother, 28-year-old Tyrone Patterson, who police said had several minor outstanding arrest warrants.

Both were released, pending court appearances.

In November 2001, Eagles Correll Buckhalter, Darrel Crutchfield and Terrence Carroll were arrested in an SUV on South Street after officers smelled marijuana coming from the vehicle. Buckhalter and Crutchfield were not charged, but were suspended for that week's game by the Eagles. Carroll, who was charged with misdemeanor posssession, was cut - but that was an in-season incident, involving a player who never appeared in an Eagles game and was easy to discard. *